Category Archives: Patriots 2016 NFL Draft

Patriots Nab Slot Corner Duke Dawson in Round 2, Quick Analysis

Steve Balestrieri
April 28, 2018 at 7:23 am ET

After a flurry of trading activity in the second round that had the Patriots trading down from #43 to #51 and #117 (Detroit) to trading that pick for a 2019 2nd round pick (plus #105 from Chicago), they then traded their #63 pick and #117 (received in the trade with Detroit) to move up to #56 to land slot corner Duke Dawson from Florida.

So who is Duke Dawson? He was a one-year starter for the Gators, having to wait his turn playing behind Vernon Hargreaves, Quincy Wilson and Teez Tabor, playing some safety and slot corner before getting his shot in 2017.

Projected to go in Rounds 3-4, Dawson is a slightly undersized corner at 5’11, 200 who is at his best when matched up in press man coverage, although he does well in zone as well. He has good footwork, fluid hips which allow him to turn and run with receivers and does a good job of mirroring. He can be a little handsy, walking a fine line between locking up and holding.

His lack of height may hurt his chances to play effectively on the outside, he struggled a bit when facing the bigger wide receivers of the SEC. His frame makes him look more like a safety than a corner, with his shorter, stockier frame. So, file that away for future reference.

He doesn’t have great top-end speed but shows very good anticipation and is known as a team-first guy. He’s very competitive and feisty, something that probably resonated well with the coaches when he visited here earlier in the spring.

For 2018, he should be immediately in the mix for the slot corner position with Jonathan Jones (if he ’s healthy) once training camp opens. But he could be a guy that can be moved to safety as well down the road. Versatility goes a long way.

Dawson is a guy that would’ve been available lower in the draft, but they obviously liked him and if the team likes a player, they’ve never been shy about going to get him.

ICYMI VIDEO: “@FitzyGFY’s Wicked Pissah Draftcast”

Robert Alvarez
May 6, 2016 at 5:30 am ET

New England Patriots superfan Paul “Fitzy” Fitzgerald shares his final 2016 NFL Draft thoughts with a breakdown of the teams slections from start to finish in his latest funny YouTube webcast.

Warning: NSFW, Language.

Video courtesty @FitzyGFY and townienews.com

Competition at CB for the Patriots Will Be Intense

Steve Balestrieri
May 4, 2016 at 6:39 am ET

Pats have brought in several new faces to compete at corner

Yesterday we wrote about the WR position and how the OTAs, Mini-camp and Training Camp battles should be intense. The same should be true about the cornerback position. Between the draft and signing UDFAs, the Patriots have added four new faces at corner and should be looking at some great competition this summer.

Top draft pick Cyrus Jones from Alabama, taken in the 2nd round of the draft with the #60 overall pick will naturally get a lot of attention this summer and with just cause. He should immediately vie for reps and can play either inside or outside.

A converted WR, Jones is slightly undersized at 5’10, but is physical, strong and has been improving in his coverage every year. He’s can mirror wide receivers down the field and is very active in run support. Jones is a dynamic punt returner with 4 returns for TDs in 2015. He ran a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash and an outstanding 6.71 in the all-important 3-Cone Drill.

Cyrus Jones2

The Patriots also added three other corners, the theme being they’re being undersized but very athletic. They included Jonathan Jones from Auburn, V’Angelo Bentley from Illinois and Cre’Von Leblanc from Florida Atlantic. Bentley and Leblanc like Cyrus Jones have experience running back kickoffs and Jonathan Jones was a nationally ranked track star.

Jones was an All-SEC Selection in 2014 and ran a blistering 4.33 in the 40 at the NFL Combine as well as a 7.25-second three-cone, 36-inch vertical leap, and 123-inch broad jump. Strong for his size, he did 19 reps on the bench press.

He notched 129 tackles, seven interceptions, with 24 passes defended over his Tigers career. We ran a draft profile on him earlier during the draft process on his being a fit for the Patriots.

Bentley is another corner who isn’t the biggest guy at 5’10, 190 pounds, but he provided good production with 54 tackles, three TFL, sack, 743 kick/punt return yards last season. He was the only player in school history to score on a kick return, punt return, interception, and a fumble.

Leblanc is the third smaller but physical and athletic corner that the Patriots brought in as a UDFA. He too has special teams’ expertise, returning 29 kickoffs for 556 yards in his career.

While only 5’9, 194-pounds, he’s a stocky, muscular defender who was known for his versatility as a cover man/run stopper/blitzer. He doesn’t have great top-end speed (4.65 time in the 40) but did run a 6.91 in the 3-Cone.

These new faces will have the daunting task of unseating the veterans and three returning starters from last season in Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan and Justin Coleman in the slot. Butler will be a restricted free agent after the 2016 season, but isn’t going anywhere. Ryan is an unrestricted free agent after this year and as is the norm, you can’t keep everyone, so one of these young players may be vying for his spot.

The team also has recently signed E.J. Biggers a veteran backup and last season’s 7th round draft in Darryl Roberts. Roberts is an intriguing player who turned heads at last season’s training camp and earned the start for the team’s first preseason game, before injuring his wrist and being placed on IR.


Darryl Roberts looks to compete for starting reps in 2016. (SBalestrieri image)

Roberts too brings some very gifted athleticism to the table. He ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash with a 6.66-second 3-cone, a 4.06-second short shuttle, with a 39-inch vertical leap, 23 reps on the bench press and an 11’1 broad jump at his Pro Day last year.

Unlike the rest of the league who are all trending to the bigger more physical corners, the Patriots are content with taking the slightly smaller, more athletic ones. Roberts and Biggers are the only corners at 6’0. Butler, Ryan and Coleman are listed at 5’11 and the rookie class is all under that.

It will be interesting to see who rises above the pack to nail down reps early this summer. While Cyrus Jones will be looked to push immediately for reps, Roberts and Coleman will have something to say about that.

With the old adage that you can never have enough good corners, the Patriots seem to be in that position this season. After entering 2015 with a ton of questions at the position, now they have three starters returning…something that hasn’t happened in recent memory with several talented youngsters waiting in the wings vying to compete.

The corner position will definitely be an intriguing one to watch this summer.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Mitchell, Lucien Give the Patriots Youth, Depth at WR

Steve Balestrieri
May 3, 2016 at 6:44 am ET

Pats will have intense competition in Training Camp at WR

The Patriots added some much-needed youth into the wide receiver core, by selecting Malcolm Mitchell from Georgia in the 4th Round and Devin Lucien with a comparative steal in 7th Round of the NFL Draft. With Julian Edelman turning 30 later this month and Danny Amendola and Nate Washington turning 31 and 33 respectively this season, the team needed an injection of youth and athleticism.

The team added Chris Hogan during free agency who brings a bit of size, speed, and athleticism to the mix. Now with Mitchell and Lucien thrown into the fray at WR, the level of competition during spring OTAs and into training camp should be intriguing.

The two rookies join Edelman, Amendola, Hogan, Washington, Aaron Dobson, Keshawn Martin, Chris Harper and DeAndre Carter into the mix at the position. UDFA agents D.J. Foster as well as De’Runnya Wilson could also be in the mix.

With Edelman and Hogan roster locks and Amendola very nearly one, that doesn’t leave much room on the roster for the others to compete for a roster slot. Matthew Slater, a perennial Pro-Bowl STs player is a wide receiver (in name only) as well.

But with both rookie draft picks playing outside the numbers, they have the opportunity to contribute immediately and provide some needed production that doesn’t come from the slot.

Mitchell has good but not great size at 6’0, 198 pounds. He shook off some injuries to put up some solid numbers despite overall poor play from the Georgia QBs.

He had 58 catches for 865 yards for a 14.9-yard average, and five touchdowns in his final season. He possesses good speed with 4.45 speed in the 40-yard dash with good hands and the ability to go over the middle of the field and be productive.

He’s tough, runs very good routes but will have to be more physical, as he can get re-routed at the line of scrimmage. He’ll be looked to take over that Brandon LaFell role as the “X” wide receiver. He should be able to fulfill that role well, coming from a pro-style offense with the Bulldogs.

Lucien was considered one of the biggest sleepers in the draft. He spent three years at UCLA before transferring to AZ St.

He’s another guy that runs smooth routes, can make contested catches in traffic. Lucien has decent size at 6’2, 195-pounds and has the ability to make yards after the catch. His scouting profile says “he can turn 15 yards into 40 if he slips a tackle.” He’s very good at working the middle of the field, a Patriots specialty.

After starting the season slowly, he got in sync with the offense down the stretch especially once he got over a hamstring injury which slowed him. He dominated over his last three games with 534 yards receiving and 5 touchdowns.

These two players with Hogan thrown into the competition should give the Patriots plenty of options for Tom Brady to throw the ball outside the numbers, something that was missing in 2015 after LaFell was so successful the year prior.

But let’s temper expectations a bit. Don’t expect either of these guys to come in and catch 60-70 passes this season….that isn’t going to happen. With Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett, Edelman, Amendola, Hogan and (hopefully), Dion Lewis out of the backfield, there just isn’t going to be that many passes to go around.

But they will be able to compete and contribute….Mitchell especially in the offense right from jump street. The training camp battles for reps and roster spots is going to be very interesting to watch.

Let the games begin.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Selection of Karras Brings Some Intensity to the Patriots Offensive Line

Ian Logue
May 2, 2016 at 9:10 am ET

(Portions of this entry appeared in Monday’s daily rundown)

The selection of Ted Karras will go down as one of the more interesting selections during the 2016 Patriots draft, primarily because it’s always fun to have guys who are a little out there, bringing attitude and a bit of an edge with them.

It’s always nice to see a little intensity added to the locker room and Karras certainly brings that. The former standout from Illinois is known for his pregame rituals, where he pours water over his head and yells “like a Viking”, but the thing that was interesting listening to him during his press conference is the fact he’s a guy who has enjoyed what he’s been doing from a young age.

From the time he was young Karras has loved his position and worked hard to grow and bulk up in order to play it well. He spent his days drinking a gallon of milk each day heading into high school as he tried to add weight and put himself in position to continue the family tradition.  Karras had seven family members play football in the Big Ten, with four more making it to the NFL.  Karras’ achievement this weekend made him number five.

He loves football.  He’s tough, and he loves being an offensive lineman.  Those are exactly the traits you look for at that position, which should make him a fun guy to follow in the coming months.

“We’re a tough family. We’ve all played and everyone’s an interior lineman,” said Karras during his conference call.  “That’s kind of been our MO throughout me growing up. I knew I was going to be a lineman early and they’ve been giving me tips throughout each stage of my career and I’ve been able to deliver so far.”

Playing up front doesn’t exactly get guys a lot of glory, but being a quarterback or a running back never entered Karras’ mind.  That’s something you don’t expect to hear from a player, but from the time he started playing at eight years old in third grade, His mind was made up.

“Never. I never had the fantasy of being a quarterback,” said Karras when he was asked about it over the weekend.  “I knew from an early age I was going to be a lineman. My first position was nose guard. My first [jersey] number was in the 60s, so it was pretty predetermined for me. I knew what my role was going to be on a football field.”

In a lot of ways he’s sort of reminiscent of former offensive lineman Logan Mankins, who brought a toughness and attitude that made him a great asset during his time in New England.  Mankins was a first-round pick while Karras was obviously a late-round selection. The two are obviously very different players, but Karras seems to bring a similar drive.

“I felt I was a leader. I felt I brought a hard-nose attitude,” said Karras.  “I worked every day, maybe not considered the most elite athlete but I got the job done and excelled at the job. I not only got the job done but did the job well. That’s kind of how I’ve always been.”

So what he says he lacks in athleticism, he makes up for in hard work and determination.   You’ve got to love having a player like that on this football team, and hopefully he’ll be as good or even better than Mankins.  In a league where guys who work hard often outlast those who don’t, that should give Karras an opportunity to be successful at the next level.

Former Patriots RB Kevin Faulk Stole The Show This Weekend

Ian Logue
at 9:03 am ET

(Portions of this entry appeared in Monday’s daily rundown)

Considering how much pent up animosity most fans had heading into this past weekend’s draft, former Patriots running back Kevin Faulk did a great job at easing a little bit of the frustration when he took the stage to announce draft picks for the team on day two.

The well-respected former Patriot surprised everyone when he stood up on stage and unbuttoned his jacket to reveal a Tom Brady jersey, and caused the room to erupt when he said, “The New England Patriots AND Tom Brady select … ”  It likely brought a smile to everyone’s face who was watching and it certainly caught the attention of Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio, who each commented on it during their press conferences.

“That’s why Kevin Faulk is a potential member of the Patriots Hall of Fame. We all love Kevin Faulk,” said Caserio.  “Kevin Faulk’s one of the best Patriots on a multitude of levels and I think he certainly showed that tonight.”

Originally drafted in 1999 by then head coach Pete Carroll, Faulk was one of the longest tenured players with Brady before hanging up his cleats during October of the 2012 season. He and Brady developed a great relationship and garnered a lot of respect from Belichick, who when Faulk retired said, “Whatever the role … the more critical the play, the better he played and the more you could count on him.”

Faulk came through again for the team this weekend, and when asked about the move Belichick said, “He always makes good decisions. Yeah, he looked sharp out there.”

The retired running back told WEEI on Saturday that the move to wear Brady’s jersey happened at the last minute and he explained exactly how it transpired, including the fact that the person who brought him out happened to be a Patriots fan and endorsed what Faulk was about to do.

“There was a process where you got on the green room, and the woman from the NFL comes to get you to bring you to the stage,” Faulk said to WEEI.com. “The person who came to get me, she was a huge Patriots fan. She said, ‘Oh, I love it.’ I got out there, and I heard some cheers and some boos. There will always be some negatives and some positives, but it was mostly positive.”

Faulk said that the move was done to support his former teammate, and there’s clearly still plenty of love between two guys who won several championships together on the football field.

“It was a move that wasn’t about me,” said Faulk. “It was a move in support of my brother. We’ve been together for a long time, and it was a way for me to show support for Tom.”

Most importantly, Faulk told Mike Reiss that he got a congratulatory text from Brady himself, who was very appreciative of the support of his former teammate.

Faulk is no stranger to coming up with big plays when the team needed to, and he certainly pulled off another great one this weekend.

Patriots UDFA Class Has Some Intriguing Prospects

Steve Balestrieri
at 8:00 am ET

There is usually at least one UDFA  who rises to make the team

The Patriots have finished the 2016 NFL Draft and have brought in their initial undrafted free agent (UDFA) class. Malcolm Butler was one of those players just two years ago, and the Patriots always seem to have at least one UDFA player that will make the 53-man roster.

So far these are the players that have been signed and there are a few intriguing prospects that could have a shot at sticking around and making the team.

DJ Foster, RB/WR, Arizona State:
Foster is an undersized running back at 5’10, 193 pounds that moved to slot receiver for his senior season after being in the backfield for the first three years for the Aztecs. In 2015, he chipped in with 280 yards rushing as well as catching 59 passes for 584 yards and three touchdowns.

He finished his college career with 444 carries and 222 catches in the passing game for combined 4813 yards from scrimmage for 32 touchdowns. His skills at wide receiver are in the neophyte stage but brings an element of versatility that could be productive. He ran a 4.47 in the 40 Yard Dash, a 6.75 time in the 3-Cone Drill and has a 36-inch in the Vertical.

Jonathan Jones, CB Auburn:
Jones is an undersized (5’9, 186 pound), cornerback from Auburn. He was an All-SEC Selection in 2014 before seeing his production step back a bit last season. He is gifted athletically and ran a blistering 4.33 in the 40 at the NFL Combine as well as a 7.25-second three-cone, 36-inch vertical leap, and 123-inch broad jump. Strong for his size, he did 19 reps on the bench press …two more than 3rd round draft pick, 329-pound Vincent Valentine.

He notched 129 tackles, seven interceptions, and 24 passes defended over his Tigers career. We ran a draft profile on him earlier in the spring.

Steven Scheu, TE, Vanderbilt:
Scheu is more of a “move TE” than a traditional in-line one as he doesn’t have the blocking skills to move the pile at 6’4, 250 pounds. Scheu caught 39 passes for 525 yards and four touchdowns in 2014 before seeing his numbers plummet to 26 catches for only 231 yards due to poor QB play.

While he doesn’t have the speed to attack the seams ala Gronk or Bennett, Scheu has soft hands and a huge catch radius to be able to work the underneath routes to be effective.

C.J. Johnson, DE/LB, Ole Miss:

Johnson is a 6’1, 234-pound linebacker who has the versatility of playing at either linebacker or with his hand in the dirt at defensive end. Johnson finished his career having notched 180 tackles with 27 for loss, 13.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

His senior season was cut short due to a torn meniscus and was able to play in only four games. He’s a bit too light to be a defensive end in the NFL and will project to be an inside linebacker for the Patriots.

V’Angelo Bentley, CB, Illinois:
Bentley is another corner who will get some early reps to see if he can stick. Not the biggest guy at 5’10, 190 pounds, he brings like 2nd round draft pick Cyrus Jones the ability to return kicks.

Had good production with 46 tackles, 3.5 TFL, one INT, 815 kick/punt return yards in 2014 and 2015 with 54 tackles, three TFL, sack, 743 kick/punt return yards. He was the only player in school history to score on a kick return, punt return, interception, and a fumble.

Cre’Von Leblanc, CB, Florida Atlantic:
Leblanc is the third smaller, quicker corner that the Patriots brought in as a UDFA. With the smaller size of 5’9, 194 pounds, he too has special teams expertise, returning 29 kickoffs for 556 yards in his career.

He’s a stocky, muscular defender who former head coach Carl Pelini said was recruited specifically for his versatility as a cover man/run stopper/blitzer. He doesn’t have great top-end speed (4.65 time in the 40) but did run a 6.91 in the 3-Cone.

Woodrow Hamilton, DT, Ole Miss:
Hamilton is a 6’3, 312-pound defensive tackle that played in 47 games with 23 starts at nose tackle. He tallied 83 tackles, seven for loss, and three sacks in his career. At his Pro-Day on March 28, he benched 29 times and ran a 7.90 in the 3-Cone Drill as well as a 4.88 in the Short Shuttle, showing decent quickness for a big man.

De’Runnya Wilson, WR, Mississippi State:
Wilson is a huge, 6’5, 225-pound WR/TE who is a big target in the red zone with an enormous catch radius. His career totals of 133 catches for 1,949 yards and 22 touchdowns over three seasons with the Bulldogs shows he can be productive. He improved each year and in 2015 caught 60 passes for 918 yards and 10 touchdowns.

He’s not fast, (4.81 time in the 40), but is quick off the snap and has good hands as well as he aforementioned catch radius as well as big leaping ability. Still raw, he’d project to be a red-zone target that could be very intriguing if he can catch on.

Devonta Burns, Safety, Texas A&M:
Burns is a 5’10, 203-pound safety from A&M who ran a 4.52 in the 40 with a 7.07 in the 3-Cond Drill at his Pro Day. He has experience playing the nickel back as well as at safety. He’ll have to earn his way onto the special teams unit with the logjam at the safety position.

The Patriots also offered tryouts to RB Shaquille Powell from Duke, and linebackers Kris Frost and Justin Garrett from Auburn.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Patriots Fourth And Two Podcast: Patriots Draft Review

Russ Goldman
at 6:15 am ET

In this episode, we analyzed all of the Draft Picks for the Patriots. This is my favorite espisode ever of Patriots Fourth And Two, because we give you the type of talk and analysis I had hoped for when we started this show over four and a half years ago. I invite you to listen!

Patriots 2016 Draft Picks – Recapping Every Selection

Ian Logue
May 1, 2016 at 6:00 am ET

The NFL Draft is done and the Patriots picked up a pretty good mix of players across the board, although they came away without a running back. However, there’s a common theme within this group of Patriots 2016 draft picks, with several having traits that seem to make them great fits with this club.

Needless to say, it sets up what should be an interesting stretch heading into training camp, and here’s a quick rundown of the players taken this weekend:


1) CB CYRUS JONES:

Cyrus Jones is among the Patriots 2016 draft Picks who should give the Patriots defense help in their secondary.
Cyrus Jones should be a great addition to the Patriots’ secondary.

Name: Cyrus Jones
Position: CB
Round: 2
Selection: 60th Overall
College: Alabama
Summary: An athletic cornerback with terrific cover skills and closing speed, who despite his size at 5’10” is tough and not afraid to come up and make the tackle in the ground game.  He’s also a dynamic punt returner who should be able to help take some pressure off of new teammate Julian Edelman.


2) OL JOE THUNEY:


Joe Thuney adds versatility to the Patriots offensive line.

Name: Joe Thuney
Position: OL
Round: 3
Selection: 78th Overall
College: North Carolina State
Summary: A solid offensive lineman who played both guard and tackle in college and should give Tom Brady some additional help up front as he joins a group that didn’t exactly perform well last season, and struggled in the AFC Championship Game.


3) QB JACOBY BRISSETT:


With the uncertainty surrounding Tom Brady, Jacoby Brissett gives the Patriots depth at quarterback.

Name: Jacoby Brissett
Position:
QB
Round: 3rd
Selection: 91st Overall
College: North Carolina State
Summary: Brissett was a decent passer in college and joins his fellow college teammate Joe Thuney, showing good accuracy while also having done a good job reducing his touchdown to interception ratio as his collegiate career went on and improving his ability to take care of the football.  With the uncertainty with Brady heading into the season, Brissett gives New England some depth behind Jimmy Garoppolo, but he’ll also have the opportunity to learn and develop behind one of the best in the game in Brady.


4) DT VINCENT VALENTINE:


Valentine’s selection adds to a revamped Patriots defensive line.

Name: Vincent Valentine
Position: DT
Round: 3rd
Selection: 96th Overall
College: Nebraska
Summary: Valentine is an interesting prospect, and at 6’4″, 329-pounds he’s a big presence who is yet another addition to the Patriots revamped defensive line.  He’s a disruptive player and despite battling through injuries during his junior season finished with 4 tackles for a loss along with 3 sacks.  He’s a player with a lot of potential and having played for a school like Nebraska, he’s certainly no stranger to playing in big games.


5) WR MALCOLM MITCHELL:


The Patriots may have finally found themselves a playmaker in Mitchell. (USA TODAY Images)

Name: Malcolm Mitchell
Position: WR
Round: 4
Selection: 112th Overall
College: Georgia
Summary: The addition of Mitchell appears like it could give the Patriots the playmaker they’ve been looking for to strengthen their offense. He’s listed at 6’0″ which gives Tom Brady a taller receiver to target and also ran a 4.40 40-yard dash during private workouts. The interesting thing about Mitchell is that he’s also spent time at cornerback, which gives him the advantage of having some familiarity with how defenders will play him. He also has great body control and has shown a great ability to adjust to the football, and he’s also one of those guys who isn’t afraid to fight for the football. Overall, he should be fun to watch in training camp and adds to what is already a pretty competitive group.


6) LB KAMU GRUGIER-HILL:


Grugier-Hill gives the Patriots another athletic player in their defense. (USA TODAY Images)

Name: Kamu Grugier-Hill
Position: SS/LB
Round: 6th
Selection: 208th Overall
College: Eastern Illinois
Summary: The Patriots grabbed a teammate of Garoppolo with Grugier-Hill’s selection, adding an athletic linebacker who was certainly a play-maker during his senior season.  He finished the season with an incredible 16.5 tackles for a loss along with 6.5 sacks, and also had an interception and a fumble recovery.  He’s certainly an intriguing player and should be a fun one to keep an eye on.


7) ILB ELANDON ROBERTS:


Roberts was a solid player during his collegiate career in Houston.

Name: Elandon Roberts
Position: ILB
Round: 6th
Selection: 214th Overall
College: Houston
Summary: Roberts is great story, having had a solid career for the University of Houston and turning himself from a good player into an NFL-ready prospect.  His coach, Tom Herman, called Roberts a “self-made man”, which obviously shows you the type of work ethic and respect the former Houston linebacker had as a member of his program.  The theme of what New England was looking for seems to fit the mold of what Roberts provides, with the linebacker finishing with a breakout season, amassing 142 tackles, including six sacks, 19 tackles for a loss, an interception, and two forced fumbles.


8) OG TED KARRAS:


Ted Karras should bring plenty of attitude and intensity to the Patriots’ offensive line.

Name: Ted Karras
Position: OG
Round: 7th
Selection: 221st Overall
College: Illinois
Summary: One of the biggest things missing up front on New England’s offensive line was some nastiness and intensity last season, and the selection of Karras is going to be one of the more interesting ones to watch during training camp.  He’s an intense player, to the point where his pregame preparations are one of the more unique ones out there.  Ryan Hannable of WEEI pointed out that before each game, Karras pours two bottles of water over his head and yells like a Viking, and you have to love having a guy like that on your offensive line and in your locker room.  That type of approach and attitude tends to be infectious and if that ends up being the case, we should see a big improvement from this group in 2016.


9) WR DEVIN LUCIEN:


Devin Lucien was considered to be one of the biggest sleepers in the draft.

Name: Devin Lucien
Position: WR
Round: 7th
Selection: 225th Overall
College: Arizona State
Summary: It’s hard to explain exactly what the reason is, but 7th round picks seem to offer the most intrigue compared to other rounds and Lucien certainly falls into that category.  He was a solid receiver for ASU and Pro Football Focus actually named him the No. 1 sleeper in the draft a couple weeks ago.  Some scouting reports seem to believe that Lucien was the victim of a talented draft class that simply forced him down the board, and given his strong hands and his ability to adjust his body to the football, he seems like he could be yet another player to keep an eye on.

There seems to be a common theme among these players and overall it’s one of the more intriguing drafts in recent memory.  For now, this one’s in the books and now we’ll see in the coming months which players emerge as potential play-makers for the Patriots this season.

Patriots Day 3 Draft Choices, 2 Wide Receivers, STs Boost

Steve Balestrieri
April 30, 2016 at 8:16 pm ET

Pats Surprisingly …or not, don’t address Running Backs

The Patriots, as Nick Caserio said on Friday night at his Post-Draft Day 2 presser, may trade away some of their picks on Day 3. On Saturday, they did just that.

The Pats went from eight picks to five, moving one pick into a 2017 4th Round draft pick which will replace the one they lost in the Deflategate punishment from the league. In the fourth round, the Patriots selected WR Malcolm Mitchell from Georgia before picking four times between the sixth and seventh rounds with selections between 208 – 225. One area not addressed in the draft, and glaringly so was running back.

Here’s a quick snapshot of their selections:

Round 4, Pick #112 Malcolm Mitchell, WR Georgia:
Mitchell is a decent sized WR at 6’0, 198 pounds who suffered a torn ACL in 2013. He came back but was limited in 2014, but had a solid season last year despite poor play from the Bulldog’s QBs.

He notched 58 catches for 865 yards (14.9 average) and five touchdowns in his final campaign. He possesses good speed with 4.45 speed in the 40 with good hands and the ability to go over the middle of the field and be productive.

He’s tough, runs good routes but will have to be more physical, as he can get re-routed at the line of scrimmage. He’ll be a 24-year old rookie as well. But if he can develop and catch on in the Pats system, he could be field stretcher horizontally with the occasional deep ball.

Round 6, Pick #208 Compensatory Pick, Kamu Grugier-Hill, S/LB, Eastern Illinois:
Grugier-Hill is another one of those hybrid, safety/linebackers that are the new player du jour in the NFL.  He played at the same small school as Pats QB Jimmy Garappolo.

He’s got good size at 6’2, 215 pounds and runs a 4.45 in the 40 with a 38.5-inch vertical jump at his Pro Day. Could the Patriots use him in their sub-packages as a “big nickel” linebacker? Quite possibly. With his speed and explosion, he could cover sideline-to-sideline and be an effective blitzer up the gaps. He’ll make his bones initially on STs.

Round 6, Pick #214 Elandon Roberts, LB Houston:
Roberts is a two-down, run-stuffing inside linebacker who was very productive (88.5 solo tackles, led FBS), for the Cougars.

Roberts is 6’0, 235 pounds and was described as a “coach’s dream” in his scouting reports. He was a tremendous leader on and off the field from Houston and is known as a fierce hitter with an outstanding work ethic.

He’s a thumper in the running game but will be a liability in coverage, hence the two-down capability. He too will make the team initially based upon his STs expertise.

Round 7, Pick #221 Ted Karras, G, Illinois:
Karras is the great-nephew of Lion’s great (and Blazing Saddles fame) Alex Karras. Karras was a 2014-15 Honorable Mention for the All Big-Ten. He’s got good size at 6’3, 307 pounds and was a four-year starter at right guard.

He’s got tremendous strength (32 reps on the bench press), is a physical, gritty presence in the running game but is limited by his athleticism in pass protection. His game day intensity is said to be legendary but plays in control. Only flagged twice in the past two seasons.

Round 7, Pick #225 Devin Lucien, WR, Arizona State:
Lucien spent three years at UCLA before transferring to AZ St. He finished the season strongly after shaking off a hamstring injury, catching 35 passes for 659 yards and six touchdowns over his final five games.

He runs smooth routes and shows very good hands with the ability to get the ball in traffic. He ran a 4.49 in the 40 showing good but not great speed. He and Mitchell will be locked in a training camp battle with Nate Washington, Aaron Dobson, Keshawn Martin, and Chris Harper for reps and roster spots.

The Patriots improved their depth at WR with the two picks although neither is a true lock to make the final roster. On defense, their two picks will help with depth and be a boost for the special teams. While Karras will join an already crowded crew along the interior offensive line and have to battle to earn reps and a roster spot.

It is interesting to note that two of the positions that were considered among the team’s greatest need, OT and RB were not covered with 11 picks in the draft. Friday’s selection of JoeThuney was thought to be as a tackle, but in his conference call with the media, he told them that he considers himself an interior offensive lineman.

The absence of any running backs in the team’s draft selections has to be considered, moving forward, an area of a glaring weakness. The team was completely ineffective running the ball in 2015 and with LaGarrette Blount as well as Dion Lewis coming off of serious injuries last year, this was an area that needed a serious upgrade. The team signed Donald Brown during free agency but that won’t nearly be enough.

There were plenty of good options available, and with the prospect of Jimmy Garappolo having to start the first four games of the season, being one-dimensional on offense is not going to help his cause, nor the teams at all.

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